“Mom? Are you the tooth fairy?”
Stunned, I can’t look up from the puzzle I’m working on. “No, Sweetie. I’m your mom.”
My son walked away satisfied.
Oh. God. What did I just do? I lied to my son. But I was unprepared and I knew the inevitable question was next, “Are you Santa Claus, too?”
My husband chastised me. “You can’t lie. If he asks the question it means he’s ready for the answer.”
Well. That might be so. But maybe I’m not ready for the answer.
I’m not. Ready, that is. I fully believe in Santa Claus. Not in the concrete way that children do. But in the esoteric, allegorical sense. Think Miracle on 34th Street or the amazing Colonel Harry Shoup. And the Pollyanna in me clings to this belief for dear life.
I’ve tried to prepare for the inevitable. I’ve practiced speeches in my head. But I stumble and fail. I found this amazing letter that another mother wrote for her child. I’ve bookmarked it, hoping to be inspired when the time comes. But that moment will sneak up on me, just as it did the other day, and catch me by surprise. And I will bumble and fumble for the right words. I pray they come to me.
Think back to the time when you believed in Santa. This extraordinary man, who encourages goodness and kindness and magic. The joy, racing down the stairs, to see what was left under the tree. Finding just what you wanted and he only wanted a cookie, some hot chocolate and a carrot for his reindeer in return.
As my children grow older, I’m trying to come to terms that this magical time is ending. The mysteries of Santa will be revealed. And to those of you who have never lied to your children about this mythical man, you may now smile smugly as I wrestle with my lie and the fear that my children will lose confidence in me. I am a fraud, just as Santa Claus is a fraud, and I may never again be trusted.
“Will you put the dollar under his pillow?” I ask my husband.
“Me? Why me? You ALWAYS do it!” My husband is panicked and I try to get him to take the dollar.
“Well, that way I haven’t lied. I’m not the tooth fairy. You are.” Loopholes. I’m always on the lookout for loopholes.
“Well, I can’t. I mean. Uh. I don’t know how.” He stutters and stammers.
I glare at him. “You don’t know how? What is that supposed to mean? You slip your hand under his pillow, remove the tooth and leave a dollar in its place.”
He sheepishly trudges upstairs and I follow for moral support.
He tries to sneak his hand under the pillow but our son shifts in his sleep. “See? I’m going to screw it up.” He hisses.
I glare again.
He tries again, barely slipping his hand under the pillow and gives up. “I can’t find it. It’s not there.”
Ticked, I snatch the dollar, slip my hand under the pillow, immediately find the tooth and replace it with the dollar bill. My glare has now turned icy and menacing.
“You made a liar out of me,” I snarl.
My husband just stands there, with a sheepish grin.
I guess he’s not ready for the inevitable either.